There is nothing quite like the warm and spicy flavour of gingerbread. I’ve had such a love affair with this flavour ever since I was a little girl.
Probably because I’m German. We have this spice combination in our DNA. When the weather turns cooler, out comes the Lebkuchen, or gingerbread. Interestingly, while the name most likely refers to an ancient honey cake, I always translated Lebkuchen ‘cake of life’. Because ‘to live’ in German is ‘Leben’. In my childlike brain, I thought that the name revealed how seriously we view this special blend of spices and ingredients! But when you think about it, each of the spices used in gingerbread has wonderful, healing and nutritious properties, really important for life.
Cloves. They aid in digestion, have antimicrobial properties, fight against cancer, protect the liver, boost the immune system, control diabetes, preserve bone quality, and contain anti-mutagenic properties, as well as fighting against oral diseases and headaches.
Ginger. It helps digestion, reduces nausea and helps fight the flu; highly effective against nausea; anti-inflammatory effects can help reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis; shown to lower blood sugar levels and improve various heart disease risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes; speeds up emptying of the stomach, which can be beneficial for people with indigestion and related stomach discomfort. Ginger can lead to significant reductions in LDL cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels; it contains a substance called 6-gingerol, which may have protective effects against cancer; Gingerol, the bioactive substance in fresh ginger, can help lower the risk of infections.
Cinnamon. It raises good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol; it has antifungal, antibacterial, and even antiviral properties; it can help treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s; it has anti-inflammatory properties.
Nutmeg. It has the ability to relieve pain, soothe indigestion, strengthen cognitive function, detoxify the body, boost skin health, alleviate oral conditions, reduce insomnia, increase immune system function, and prevent leukemia; and improve blood circulation.
Allspice. Eugenol found in allspice can eliminate digestive issues such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and constipation, while also stimulating regularity, which reduces bloating and excess flatulence. The anti-inflammatory aspect of allspice further eases cramps, which can ease the entire process of digestion.
Cardamom. Related to ginger, it can be used in much the same way to counteract digestive problems. Use it to combat nausea, acidity, bloating, gas, heartburn, loss of appetite, constipation, and much more. This spice helps the body eliminate waste through the kidneys; relief from cardiovascular issues, and the improvement of blood circulation in the body. It is useful for curing dental diseases and urinary tract infections
Pepper. (Yes pepper- it is found in some gingerbread!) It can bring relief from respiratory disorders, coughs, the common cold, constipation, indigestion, anemia, impotency, muscular strains, dental disease, pyorrhea, diarrhea, and heart disease. It is a rich source of manganese, iron, potassium, vitamin-C, vitamin K, and dietary fiber. Black pepper is also a very good anti-inflammatory agent.
And those are just the major components of classic gingerbread. Alsatian Gingerbread also includes Anise seeds, which can be an excellent remedy for asthma, bronchitis cough as well as digestive disorders such as flatulence, bloating, colicky stomach pain, nausea and indigestion.
So when they all come together, then it really is a cake to keep you healthy! Yea, that’s going to be my rational for baking gingerbread up more often- it’s just naturopathic goodness!!
And I like it with a slight heat to it- the ginger and even pepper in some recipes sends my tastebuds on a rampage! Speaking of pepper, pfeffernusse cookies, a version of gingerbread, more spicy than just sweet, are an old school German cookie that comes out in December. But I won’t wait till then to bake them. Will keep you posted.
Anyway, this loaf, is just a classic, moist gingerbread loaf, with the addition of pumpkin puree. ‘Cuz, why not!? Really, how often do you open a can of pumpkin for one recipe, and then realize you have enough pumpkin left over for another one? Then this is the recipe for you. It’s a wonderfully easy loaf to whip up- easy blending of ingredients you already have in the house. This loaf was inspired by a gingerbread loaf from The View from the Great Island. I used it as a jumping off point for my pumpkin and German twist! And the glaze, well, that’s just me!
What elevates this recipe is the glaze. An olive oil glaze that ends up being the perfect visual contrast to the deep richness of the cake. And when you sprinkle cocoa nibs and diced candied ginger on top, well, now it’s really dessert. Add a scoop of ice cream (perhaps my Masala Chai Gelato!) on top, and I dare anyone to say this isn’t fit for fancy occasions?! But don’t wait for a fancy occasion. This is a wonderful snack any time of day.
This recipe is joining a whole slew of other fabulous pumpkin recipes being released at the same time for a Virtual Pumpkin Party, all over the world. It’s a pumpkin-palooza! So do check them all out to get your pumpkin fix for the year. You can find the entire list at the hosts, Sara from Cake Over Steak and Aimee from Twigg Studios. You really do want to check out all the amazing recipes, to satisfy both your savoury and sweet tooth!
PUMPKIN GINGERBREAD LOAF WITH OLIVE OIL GLAZE
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter , softened to room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground anise seeds
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 cups confectioners (icing) sugar, sifted; plus a little extra if needed
- 2 tbsp hot water; plus a little more if needed
- 2 1/2 tbsp light or extra virgin olive oil (avoid strong grassy or peppery ones)
- 1 1/2 tbsp minced candied ginger
- 1 1/2 tbsp cacao nibs
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Spray a 9x5 loaf pan lightly with cooking spray, and then line it with parchment paper leaving the sides longer so you can lift it out afterwards.
Cream the butter and the sugar until fluffy in a stand mixer or with a hand held mixer. Beat in the egg and the vanilla.
Add the pumpkin puree and mix.
Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices together in a small bowl.
Add the flour mixture to the bowl in 1/4 cup amounts. When everything is blended, transfer to the prepared loaf pan. Smooth the top out.
Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until it is risen and a tester comes out clean. Check at 55 minutes.
Let cool completely on a rack before adding the glaze. When cooled, use the parchment to remove from the pan and return to the rack. I usually place my cooling rack over a baking sheet, so that when I add the glaze, the extra can run off into the baking sheet.
In a small bowl whisk the sugar with the water until it is a thick glaze. Add more sugar if needed to get the consistency of honey. Or if needed, add a touch more water to achieve this.
Slowly add the olive oil and whisk continuously. It should not be too runny.
Pour the glaze over the loaf, allowing the glaze to run over the sides. Sprinkle with the candied ginger and cacao nibs.
Let the glaze set and cool completely before cutting.
You can bake this and freeze it. Then, when ready to eat, thaw and glaze!
I will often cut in half and freeze half immediately. If not, I'd eat it all.